Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dynamism: The challenge for Juan de la Cruz

Action. Bounce. Zing. Energy. Esprit. Oomph. Vibrancy. Zest. If it’s not obvious yet, the writer works with his Eastern European friends to guide them sustain their imagination and ability to constantly visualize their vision – of being the best in the business out of CEE (Central & Eastern Europe.)

What is your vision of your brand? Can you imagine and visualize it? In a few words, tell me what it is? And these are among the most creative and artistic people the writer has met, the US included. Yet they’re still stumped! And to add complexity to the exercise, his most recent challenge to them: What business are we in? A confused looked and so the writer asked that a handful of different brands be placed on the conference table.

You move from a brand to a category to a portfolio. Where you get the utmost synergy is what your business is. Since the writer arrived 14 years ago – through this day – people in CEE are enamored with brands. Yet the test of the pudding is in the eating – it must be founded on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs; the object being to raise man’s wellbeing. And this is how – and we are simply connecting the dots that you now know, but rehearse it before you go out to the real world – to sell a portfolio, beyond a brand.

And come back to me and tell me if your business is not growing. Remember, keep your GPS handy – the compass of true leadership: Where are we, where do we want to be, how do we get there.

For us Pinoys, to figure out how to describe the future of PH, it will help if we first google “dynamism” – and it will open our eyes to a new world. Of course, there is more to it. Reality. Lateral thinking. Benchmarking. Dynamism.

In other words, to connect these dots, we must first come face-to-face with reality. But people are blind to reality. The lesson the writer learned – years later, not when his ear was being bent – from his late Jesuit friend. We are ideologues – or “basta” in the vernacular – if not “bilib sa sarili” or simply “yabang”!

When we are blind to reality, we cannot think outside-the-box and lateral and much less imagine and visualize the future. We are stuck to the present and, worse, in linear thinking. And furthermore, the outcome of lateral thinking must be tested against the real world, and that is why benchmarking comes in handy. And the next question is, how to execute? Enter dynamism . . . and . . . out must go Juan Tamad.

The blog doesn’t tire in replaying “benchmarking” – it is about learning from others. And so is growth and development. It will not be a surprise if most of us grew up looking up to an ideal, a parent or a relative or friend. What about Juan de la Cruz?

After Iskandar Malaysia, let’s look at the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone, the benchmark the Malaysians chose for their own development initiative. It’s down memory lane for the writer who covered the region for 10 years, including doing a JV deal with the Chinese and paving the way for a second one. How many times he stayed in a hotel by the Pearl River in Guangzhou . . .

And what stands out is the 8 months; every single month he visited to meet with the General Manager of the JV partner. And thanks to his being Pinoy, he knew relationship is the first rule in Asia. And his MNC bosses knew about Asian patience too and with the writer took things in stride.

And the writer is witness to how the Chinese translated Deng’s mantra: “I don't care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. It’s a good cat so long as it catches mice.” He had his critics within the leadership who pointed out that his ideas were Capitalistic (free market). Thus, the response: “It does not matter if it's Communist or Capitalist, as long as it works.”

In a post a few years ago, the blog said that the Chinese were pragmatists. Which can only be traced to their philosophy or worldview being crystal clear. To give the writer’s MNC company 100% ownership of the holding company for the China venture and limiting the JV to a subsidiary manufacturing enterprise is one model that attracted FDI into the country. And, of course, technology. Today they are now able to make their own jet planes, among countless others.

Is that something we Pinoys could even imagine? And we wonder why we’re the regional laggard? How foolish can we be? Is the Chinese less patriotic? What about Singapore or Malaysia and Thailand or Vietnam and Indonesia?

And from Wikipedia. “The economic development of the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone took off after the reform program was instituted. The region’s GDP grew from just over US$8 billion in 1980 to more than US$89 billion in 2000 and nearly US$221.2 billion in 2005. During that period, the average real rate of GDP growth in the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone exceeded 16 percent, well above the People's Republic of China national figure of 9.8 percent.

“Since the onset of China’s reform program, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone has been the fastest growing portion of the fastest growing province in the fastest growing large economy in the world. In the process, a region that was once largely agricultural has emerged as a manufacturing platform of global importance.

“It is a world leader in the production of electronic goods, electrical products, electrical and electronic components, watches and clocks, toys, garments and textiles, plastic products, and a range of other goods.

“For the first ten years of China’s economic reform process, the internationalization of the Chinese economy was largely a Pearl River Delta phenomenon, with the export-oriented production of foreign-invested entities based in Shenzhen, Dongguan, and Guangzhou leading the way.

“In recent years, the development environment for indigenous private-owned enterprises has improved dramatically in the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone and local firms are now playing an ever-growing role in the region’s economy. In this regard, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan, and other parts of the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone have been at the forefront of private sector development in China.

“The 2008-20 plan, released by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, is designed to boost the pan—Pearl River Delta as a ‘center of advanced manufacturing and modern service industries,’ and as a ‘center for international shipping, logistics, trade, conferences and exhibitions and tourism.’

“Goals include the development of two to three new cities in the region, the development of 10 new multinational firms, and expansion of road, rail, seaport and airport capacities by 2020. They include construction of the 31-mile (50 km) Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridgelinking Hong KongMacau and the Pearl River Delta. The construction of 1,864 miles (3,000 km) of highways in the region was to be completed by 2012, and rail expansions of 683 miles (1,099 km) by 2012 and 1,367 miles (2,200 km) by 2020.”

And back to the Philippines . . . What do we read in our dailies? This or that oligarchy won this or that project. But wait a minute, the losing bidder filed a court case. And why are we favoring foreigners over our local businesses? But where is the FDI (foreign direct investment) to prove that? We have the least FDI and are the least developed. It is called cause and effect. Which comes from our insularity.

“I moderated a session of the Infrastructure Summit last week that dealt with procurement practices. I came out of it feeling more helpless and frustrated than ever.

“I have covered government as a journalist for many years and as such, I have no illusions about how the game is played in real life. But hearing from the private contractors tell stories about their daily experiences in the field, left me awestruck at the creativity of corrupt bureaucrats and cohorts from the private sector in gaming the system.” [Reality bites, Boo Chanco, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, The Philippine Star, 8th May 2017]

Where are we coming from? Where is the philosophy or the worldview? What dots will we connect and how? What is the benchmark that we want to emulate? How will the undertaking translate into FDI, technology, industry, and GDP per capita?

But shouldn’t we measure happiness? When the head of the family can’t bring home enough to make both ends meet, the priority is clear. There is no confusion. Not to over 10 million OFWs.

What is worse is, in the case of the Du30 administration, EJK is the priority! How foolish can we be?

But what about our faith? Ours is a culture of impunity and we’re not lifting a finger, what are we talking about? That we are holier-than-thou, in the opposite camp of Francis? Faith can’t be our rationalization for complacency, mediocrity and underdevelopment! Are we the present-day Padre Damaso that also killed the dynamism and creativity of Juan de la Cruz in the process? The Singaporeans, Malaysians and Chinese are also descendants of Adam and Eve. Chosen few extends beyond our borders.

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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